Turn Kitchen Scraps into Rich Organic Compost Tea

Compost tea is a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer that’s made by steeping composted materials in water. It’s an excellent way to turn kitchen scraps and other organic waste into a valuable, natural fertilizer for your garden or plants. Here’s how to make compost tea from kitchen scraps:

Materials and Ingredients:

  1. Kitchen Scraps: Collect organic kitchen waste such as fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, and small amounts of non-greasy food scraps. Avoid adding meat, dairy, and highly processed foods.
  2. Bucket or Container: Use a large, food-grade plastic or metal container, such as a 5-gallon bucket, to brew your compost tea.
  3. Water: Use dechlorinated water, either tap water that’s been allowed to sit for 24 hours to let chlorine evaporate or collected rainwater.
  4. Compost: You’ll need finished compost or well-rotted organic matter. This can be your own backyard compost or purchased compost.
  5. Aeration System: To oxygenate the mixture, you can use an aquarium pump and air stone or simply stir the tea regularly.

Steps to Make Compost Tea:

  1. Collect and Prepare Kitchen Scraps:
    • Chop or break down the kitchen scraps into smaller pieces. Smaller pieces break down more efficiently and release nutrients into the tea.
  2. Fill the Container:
    • Place the prepared kitchen scraps in the bottom of your container, filling it about a quarter full.
  3. Add Compost:
    • Cover the kitchen scraps with finished compost or well-rotted organic matter, filling the container about halfway.
  4. Fill with Water:
    • Add dechlorinated water to the container, leaving a few inches of space at the top. This water will help extract the nutrients from the compost and kitchen scraps.
  5. Aerate the Mixture:
    • To prevent the tea from becoming anaerobic (low in oxygen), use an aquarium pump and air stone to bubble air into the mixture. If you don’t have this equipment, you can manually stir the tea every day to introduce oxygen.
  6. Cover and Steep:
    • Cover the container with a lid or cloth to keep debris and pests out while allowing for airflow. Let the mixture steep for about 3-7 days. The exact brewing time depends on temperature and desired potency. Warmer temperatures speed up the process.
  7. Strain the Tea:
    • After the steeping period, strain the liquid from the container, removing the solid compost and kitchen scraps. Use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
  8. Dilute and Apply:
    • Dilute the concentrated compost tea with additional water to achieve the desired strength. The dilution rate can vary, but a typical ratio is 1:10 (1 part compost tea to 10 parts water). Use this diluted solution to water your plants or garden beds.
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Tips and Notes:

  • Use compost tea within a few days of brewing to maximize its nutrient content and beneficial microorganisms.
  • Compost tea is a foliar spray and soil drench. It can be applied to both the leaves and the soil around your plants.
  • You can customize your compost tea by adding other organic ingredients like molasses (as a microbial food source), seaweed extract, or even worm castings for extra nutrients.
  • Avoid using diseased plant material in your compost tea, as it can potentially spread diseases to your garden.

By making compost tea from kitchen scraps and other organic matter, you create a valuable, natural fertilizer and soil conditioner that promotes healthier and more productive plants while reducing kitchen waste.

Benefits of Compost Tea:

  1. Nutrient-Rich Fertilizer: Compost tea is a fantastic source of essential nutrients that plants need for growth. It contains a wide range of macronutrients, micronutrients, and trace elements that can enhance soil fertility and provide a steady supply of nutrients to plants.
  2. Microbial Activity: One of the key benefits of compost tea is the abundance of beneficial microorganisms it contains. These microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, play a crucial role in maintaining healthy soil and plant roots. They break down organic matter, making nutrients more available to plants and improving soil structure.
  3. Improved Soil Structure: Regular use of compost tea can enhance soil structure and aeration, allowing for better water retention and drainage. It also reduces soil compaction, which is especially beneficial for lawns and garden beds.
  4. Disease Suppression: The beneficial microorganisms in compost tea can help suppress harmful pathogens that can damage plants. They outcompete and inhibit the growth of disease-causing microorganisms, contributing to healthier, disease-resistant plants.
  5. Enhanced Plant Growth: Compost tea can lead to improved plant growth, as it promotes robust root development and nutrient uptake. Healthier, stronger plants are better equipped to withstand environmental stressors and pest pressure.
  6. Reduction of Chemical Dependency: By using organic compost tea as a natural fertilizer, you can reduce the need for synthetic chemical fertilizers. This, in turn, lessens the environmental impact and minimizes the risk of over-fertilization.
  7. Environmental Sustainability: The process of making and using compost tea aligns with sustainable gardening and agricultural practices. It promotes organic, eco-friendly soil management, reducing the reliance on harmful chemicals.
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How to Apply Compost Tea:

  1. Foliar Feeding: Use a sprayer to apply compost tea directly to the leaves of your plants. This method allows plants to absorb nutrients and beneficial microorganisms through their foliage.
  2. Soil Drench: Pour compost tea directly into the root zone of plants. This method helps improve soil health, enhance root development, and deliver nutrients directly to the plant’s root system.
  3. Seed Soaking: Soak seeds in compost tea before planting. This can help protect seeds from soil-borne diseases and enhance germination and early seedling growth.
  4. Preventive Maintenance: Apply compost tea regularly throughout the growing season to maintain soil fertility and suppress disease. Some gardeners use it as part of their regular maintenance schedule.

Final Thoughts:

Compost tea is a valuable tool for gardeners and farmers, allowing them to turn kitchen scraps and other organic matter into a powerful, sustainable fertilizer and soil conditioner. By harnessing the benefits of beneficial microorganisms and rich nutrient content, compost tea supports plant health, enhances soil fertility, and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers. Incorporating this natural and eco-friendly solution into your gardening practices can yield numerous benefits, leading to more productive, disease-resistant plants and healthier, more sustainable soils.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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